A TransLink proposal that would use a ground-level light rapid transit (LRT) line to connect Langley and Surrey, rather than extend the elevated SkyTrain system, has been questioned by a senior Township planner, who says the line may not help Langley commuters get to Vancouver and could mean delays for riders and a higher risk of accidents.
In a letter to TransLink obtained by The Times, Langley manager of transportation engineering Paul Cordeiro expresses a number of concerns following a March 9 workshop to begin “Phase 3” planning of proposed light rail lines to Langley and South Surrey.
Based on the discussion at the workshop, it appears commuters won’t be able to use the Langley line to take rapid transit to Vancouver, the Cordeiro letter states.
During the March 9 meeting, “comments were made about the LRT serving a local function” that appear to indicate the line is “not to facilitate Langley to Vancouver regional trips, but instead to predominately serve local trips,” the letter states.
“The framework guiding the design of this project does not appear to be consistent with a regional serving rapid transit line” the letter adds.
It goes on to request that TransLink “clarify the role and function of this major capital project …”
The letter says that the line was originally described as a “rapid transit alternative with slightly longer trip times as compared to the SkyTrain model.”
The letter notes the line would run along Fraser Highway from Surrey into Langley at ground level, requiring the trains to cross several major road intersections, including Highway 15, described as a “high speed” major route and 200 Street, with an estimated 40,000 vehicles a day.
It describes the busy intersections as “major conflict points” and warns “there is a potential for vehicle-train collisions.”
Cordeiro calls on TransLink to hire a road safety auditor “for assessment of risks at conflict points based on the traffic volume, traffic speed, probability of a collision and the consequences of a collision.”
Cordeiro also expresses doubt about the TransLink estimate that the Langley-to-Surrey trip would take 29 minutes on a ground-level LRT.
“Township staff would like to discuss what steps will be taken to ensure that this travel time is met on a consistent basis,” Cordeiro says.
“Specifically, we would like to review what policies and procedures will be put in place when considering additional stops or other items that may impact the travel time of the system, which is of primary importance to the Township, due to our geographic location.”
A copy of the letter was distributed to members of Township council on March 19.